A deadly clash between police in Mexico and a group of students protesting against gang corruption in September has ended with 43 of those students missing and the grim discovery of a mass grave of bodies. The chief suspect of this crime is the police force allegedly working in tandem with a local gang, and the chief and mayor of a rural town are on the run after being subpoenaed.

The New York Times reported on the ongoing situation in the town Iguala, where students at a mountaintop teacher’s college fought back against extortion attempts by local gangs. Many of the students were hoping to use the school as a means to launch their families out of poverty and provide hope for the next generation of young people. Among that group, 19-year olds Leonel Castro and Júlio César held fast to lofty dreams in improving their lives. They are part of the 43 missing group of students feared dead by families and the authorities.

The Times writes:

Now, they are among 43 students reported missing after deadly clashes with the police on Sept. 26, when at least six student protesters and bystanders were killed in the restive, rural state of Guerrero, one of the poorest in the country and long afflicted by political, social and criminal upheaval.

The state prosecutor investigating why the police opened fire on students from their vehicles has found mass graves in Iguala — the small industrial city where the confrontations occurred — containing 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies.

The prosecutors had already arrested 22 police officers after the clashes, saying the officers secretly worked for, or were members of, a local gang. Now they are investigating whether the police apprehended the students after the confrontation and deliberately turned them over to the local gang. Two witnesses in custody told prosecutors that the gang then killed the protesters on the orders of a leader known as El Chucky.

Parents of the missing students gathered at the school in Southern Mexico this past Sunday, showing solidarity and support for one another in the trying time. Despite the threats from the Guerreros Unidos gang thought to have been aided by police in stamping out the student protests, the parents remain unified under the “#HastaEncontrarlos” slogan which means “Until The Are Found.”

Photo: BBC News

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